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I'm a Doctor and Warn You Don't Do This Over 50

Stop doing these five things ASAP, doctors warn!
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

It's always important to take care of our health, but more so as we age. While you may still feel and look young, aging can take its toll on our bodies and if we don't make healthy lifestyle choices, we risk getting certain diseases and not aging well. Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with Dr. Eric Ascher, a Family Medicine Physician at Lenox Hill Hospital who explained what bad health habits to kick after 50 and why. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Why Taking Care of Your Health is Vital After 50?

Senior couple cooking healthy food and drinking red wine at house kitchen.

Dr. Ascher shares, "After 50, your body tends to need extra surveillance. After you put your body through day to day stressors for years—physical, mental, and emotional, you need to ensure your body will continue to support you. Similar to a car with the need for an annual inspection—after a year of use, you need to ensure all the fluid levels are proper and the engine is still strong, to prevent a breakdown when you are driving on the highway."


Changes To Expect After 50


Dr. Ascher says, "By age 50, your body may not recover as quickly. A night out drinking in which you may have bounced back within a few hours may take you an entire day or more. If you are a weekend warrior when it comes to exercising, you may feel muscle discomfort for longer than you did when you were younger depending on your physical activity. You tend to lose muscle mass quicker over 50. Mentally and emotionally, you may have seen your friends and parents go through health scares which may guide you down a path of a healthier lifestyle to prevent long term disease." 


Eating Fast Food

Obese woman laying on sofa with smartphone eating chips

"When you are younger, your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity is lower," says Dr. Ascher. "As you age and your metabolism naturally slows, high cholesterol and high sugar diets are more dangerous. This doesn't mean you should avoid it at all costs, balance is key. Drinking water is also very important."


Skipping Annual Screenings

Health visitor and a senior man during home visit.

Dr. Ascher reminds us, "Annual screenings are very important. While many doctors suggest annual screenings much earlier than 50, 50 is not too late! Screening for colon cancer with colonoscopy, breast cancer with mammography, cervical cancer with pap smears, anemia, high cholesterol, diabetes with routine blood work, blood pressure screenings, and heart disease with blood work and an electrocardiogram are all very important. During an annual physical, your primary care provider will ask you a detailed set of questions, review the pertinent screening exams based on your lifestyle and age, discuss necessary vaccinations, and do a full body exam. Preventative medicine is the best medicine, and catching diagnoses early when they are less severe is always better than waiting for advanced disease." 

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Not Using Sunscreen


"Sunscreen is very important at all ages," Dr. Ascher emphasizes. "Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer and is incredibly preventable with the use of a good sunscreen. I typically recommend a sunscreen that has zinc oxides as opposed to multiple chemicals. This gives you the best protection with the least amount of risk. You should also seek an annual skin exam from a dermatologist."

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Not Exercising

middle-aged woman jogging in winter in a close up low angle view against a sunny blue sky in a healthy active lifestyle

According to Dr. Ascher, "Physical activity is important to keep your heart healthy, blood flowing, and mind working. It also decreases your risk of multiple diseases. Muscle mass breaks down faster and bones become more brittle with age. Exercise can help prevent that—both cardio and strength exercises. I recommend at least 30 minutes a day, minimum 3-5 days a week, in order to see the benefits of exercise. It is important to find something that motivates you, try and keep it interesting—work out with a buddy, go to different parks, or try different sorts of classes. The monotony of a treadmill in your basement will become discouraging and old quickly."   

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Continuing to Smoke

Man Smoking On Bright Sunny Day Outdoor

Dr. Ascher states, "If you are any age, you should stop smoking. Your lung function improves each day without a cigarette. Talk to your doctor about the different options they can offer to help you quit. You will decrease your risk of multiple diseases."

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather
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